For many women, dieting equals food restriction. Snacks? They usually get eliminated in the name of saving calories. But snacking when you're watching your weight is actually a good idea. "[When dieting,] people often wait too long in between meals, so by the time they eat, they're so hungry, their portions or choices are out of control," says Linda McLachlan, RD, CDN, a New Jersey dietitian with Nutrition Matters, LLC. "Snacking helps keep you satisfied and wards off cravings." Here, seven low-calorie snacks to help you with your diet goals.
Fat cells fear fruit—especially watermelon. At less than 50 calories per cup and 90 percent water by weight, the summer staple is almost impossible to eat too much of. What's more, noshing on the juicy fruit has been shown to increase blood levels of L-arginine, an amino acid that's kryptonite for belly fat. One group of women who supplemented with L-arginine dropped an average of 6.5 pounds and two inches from their waists in just 12 weeks, according to a recent study. Add the fruit to your weekly lineup to reap the benefits, or pair it with one of these other best fruits for fat loss for a more filling snack.
Oatmeal is a complex carb, meaning it helps fill you up without spiking your blood sugar. Plus, it's a good source of fiber and eating more fiber helps people lose weight and keep it off. While we think of it typically as breakfast, a small bowl of oats makes a hearty, filling and delicious snack. To make this snack more convenient-keep a packet or two of unsweetened instant oatmeal at your desk or make overnight oats in a mason jar.
I make the best vegetable soup, and it’s very hard work. Chopping up the veggies very finely takes a whole afternoon and lots of “elbow grease” – therefore, when you finally eat your soup, you are appreciative. Another great point about veggie soup is that it gets better after 24-48 hours as the flavours infuse. In Italy (rather than “soup of the day”) they have “soup of the next day” available in many restaurants – as a nod to the fact that a soup’s flavours need time to infuse and mature.
For a savory snack under 60 calories, spread 1 tablespoon of low-fat cream cheese onto a slice of smoked salmon (lox) and roll it up. This salmon pinwheel is high in protein and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, though the salt used to cure the salmon boosts the sodium content. Use a little less cream cheese and you can have two pinwheels for under 100 calories.
For a more substantial alternative to cookies, try these no-bake, oat-based bites, where almonds and almond butter pack in healthy fats to make them highly satisfying. Note that the dark chocolate drizzle on top adds a bit of time to the recipe, but as with most things chocolate, it’s totally worth it. Swap in maple syrup for the honey if you follow a strict vegan diet.
Feeling in the mood for cookies? While one standard Oreo or Chips Ahoy won't likely derail your diet, it's tough to stop at one. That's where a good substitute comes in. McLachlan recommends 2 graham cracker squares spread with light peanut butter. You'll get a mix of sweet and salty flavors, plus a protein and fat boost from the peanut butter, which will keep you full till your next meal.
You don't need to go on a grapefruit diet to reap the health benefits of this ruby fruit. A whole grapefruit has about 100 calories and 4 grams of fiber. Not to mention, it delivers 100 percent of women's vitamin C needs for the day. That's a lot of nutrition packed into this tart citrus fruit (see other powerful health reasons to eat more grapefruit).
I say potayto, you say potahto, we all say baked potatoes! Potatoes are a lazy cook’s best friend—cheap, adaptable and filling—how could you go wrong with that? Skip the mashing, the French fries, go and just bake your potatoes instead. While baking potatoes can take about an hour, it’s actually perfect for the lazy cook. Just pop it in the oven and come back when it’s ready! For the lazy and the time-crunched, wrap your potato in a wet paper towel and microwave until tender, around 4-7 minutes. To make your baked potato into a meal, make sure to stuff them with robust fillings. Beans, vegan cheese, crumbled tempeh, or frozen veggies are all simple ingredients for stuffing. Use these 8 Ways to Make Badass Baked Potatoes as inspiration for your own creations or try these Twice-Baked Cheesy Hummus Potatoes. For a meal with more nutrients and antioxidants, try using baked sweet potatoes. The lentil, kale, or Mediterranean recipes in 10 Ways to Stuff a Sweet Potato would be perfect options for the hungry and lazy vegan.
This colorful creation makes for a festive appetizer or a delicious bite-sized snack. Thanks to the zucchini base, they're loaded with vitamin A, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, calcium, and protein, just to name a few of its many nutrients. Plus the sun-dried tomato adds a dose of vitamin, iron, and antioxidants. While the goat cheese adds a boost of protein to keep you feeling full and satisfied longer.
Sweet, creamy, and filling, this trio feels completely indulgent. The combination of fiber, healthy fats, and protein are sure to get you over any 3pm slump. Plus, the vitamin C in raspberries increases your body's fat-burning ability, according to research in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. Combine a single-serving container of Greek yogurt, a cup of raspberries, and a half-tablespoon of honey.
If you’re craving chips and dip but don’t want to compromise your healthy diet, reach of some buckwheat crackers with herby edamame dip instead. Both buckwheat groats and edamame are packed with protein, making them an ideal option to help ward off hunger. Buckwheat groats also filled with nutrients like zinc, copper, manganese, and magnesium. Plus this dip is so creamy and flavorful, you’ll likely forget that it’s actually healthy.
This gourmet treat is an awesome balanced and satisfying snack. The pumpernickel toast lends fiber to help keep your belly full until your next meal. While the salmon boasts high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, protein, B vitamins, potassium, and selenium. Plus, these tasty toasts include a horseradish spread for just the right amount of flavor kick. The best part: They take less than 10 minutes to make!
A mini-meal snack is a good idea when dinner is a long way off. The combo of tomato soup and baby carrots is not just filling; it also gives you lots of body-healthy nutrients, like potassium, cancer-fighting lycopene, and beta-carotene. Try a microwavable soup cup that you can stash in your car's cup holder. (Concerned about sodium? Pour about a quarter of the soup down the drain and dilute the rest with water, says McLachlan.)